There is pleasure in the
wet wet clay

(notes by Sharad Keskar and Philip Holberton)


This fifteen-line verse which heads Chapter VII of “The Naulahka” ascribed to”Op. 3″, is sometimes known as “The Lie” or “Lyric of Lies”, first collected in Songs from Books, 1912. It was set to music by Paul N Edmonds as “The Lie” in 1919. (see The Musical Settings of Kipling’s Verse by Brian Mattinson).

The poem

In the story Tarvin lies, saying he has come prospecting for gold, to deflect suspicion that he has come for the Naulahka or for Kate’s sake. However, it does not seem much of a lie to deserve the description in the poem.

Notes on the text

lay a lyric or narrative poem designed to be sung.  [D.H.]

Royal Academy the Royal Academy of Arts was founded in 1768 for the annual exhibition of works by contemporary artists. It is now (2009) housed in Burlington House, Piccadilly, London.

Chalk to…cheese “As different as chalk and cheese” is a common English saying of long standing.

angle-iron  A length of iron or steel, L-shaped for strength . steel-faced in the same line is of course a play on “bare-faced”  [D.H.]

private hansom a private cab drawn by a single horse indicated a man of considerable standing in the London of the 1890’s, but not so important as [line 14] one who was driven in a brougham with a pair of horses. The former, named after Mr Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-1882), was a low-hung, two-wheeled cabriolet for two—the driver being mounted on a dickey behind and the reins going over the roof.

A brougham was a one-horse closed carriage with two or four wheels.

a man with a little place at Tooting was merely a respectable middle-class man, whereas someone with a country-house with shooting, a ringed-in park and a deer-park, would have been a rich person of considerable social importance.


©Sharad Keskar and Philip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved